NC Farm Bureau, DEQ disagree over swine farm requirements

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NORTH CAROLINA, (WNCT) – Concentrated animal feeding operations are a big part of agri-business in eastern North Carolina.

But the state and hog farmers are in the middle of an ongoing court battle.

The North Carolina Farm Bureau has temporarily won the first round of a case against the state’s Department of Environmental Quality.

The debate is over three issues related to industrialized hog farms.

General swine permits are up for re-adoption every five years.

Last fall more protective provisions were added to the permits, including groundwater monitoring, annual reporting, and phosphorus loss tests.

But farmers won a legal challenge, putting the provisions on hold.

The North Carolina Farm Bureau and water quality activists view these conditions differently. 

Keith Larick is the NC Farm Bureau Natural Resources Director. 

“We feel that the permit that farmers currently operate under is protective and that farmers do a good job with complying with that and that now’s just not the right time to be adding more conditions onto it,” Larick explains. 

Jill Howell is the Sound Rivers Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper and she says, “We think that there’s a lot of work to do in making a general permit that is adequately protective of water quality and human health and the one issued last October does not go far enough but some of the provisions were good first steps.”

Activists are concerned about run off from these facilities. 

The Farm Bureau believes farmers are already taking a big enough toll with the coronavirus pandemic.

Judge Donald Overby has not ruled on the entire case, a hearing is scheduled for July 28th, 2020.

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